I had a long blog post about how we’ve built a different model. I started with the metaphor of a wheel, mostly because I intended to segue into how I didn’t want to spend time coming up with another model when a functional one already existed. I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel.
The the post would then move smoothly into a detailed description of ALGORITHM’s finances. Here’s the thing, right now, I have all of ALGORITHM’s accounting in a Quicken file, but it’s mixed in with all my personal stuff, so I’ve got to separate it. At the same time, I’ve got to finish an edit of ALGORITHM so I can screen it twice this Monday January 13th, 2014. It’s got to be very nearly the final edit because there’s a lot to do.
What I’m getting at is that I simply don’t have time right now to do a complete picture of ALGORITHM’s budget. But, I will post it, when I get the time.
“Thank you for your compliance.”
While I was in the middle of writing this post about ALGORITHM’s accounting, two things happened: 1) I realized that I wouldn’t be able to write a truly inclusive model until the model is finished… until we have actually distributed ALGORITHM. This section of the blog is called “ALGORITHM Post-Production Journal”. The next section will be “ALGORITHM Distribution Journal”.
I have a budget for what we got during our crowdfunding campaign, and where that money went. But, I’ve pretty much covered that in vague terms in previous posts and I don’t see any sense in duplicating that in an equally vague post with slightly more information. Instead, I’m going to wait until I have a clearer picture, then write a very detailed post.
Instead, I want to go into the 2nd thing that happened while writing this post. At around 12:30pm I was going through the ALGORITHM’s Google Doc that the producers and I shared in order to keep track of everything from casting, to locations, to the budget. In the budget section, I noticed that there seemed to be some outstanding debts. I hate debt. I’m not in it now, and I do my best to stay out of it. So, I wanted to clear up that ambiguity as quickly as possible.
I called Phillip Matarrese. He works a lot (check out his IMDB page for extensive proof), so I wasn’t sure he was going to have time to talk. It turns out, today was the perfect time to talk, and talk we did, for three hours.
I had screened ALGORITHM for Phill and Mandi on December 5th, 2013. A few days later, Phill sent me notes. A few days after that I got what I’m going to call The 2013 Christmas Plague. Today is actually the first day I feel better. There were a few days last week that the plague let up a bit, but it came back and landed on my face, causing my [redacted] and that didn’t stop until last night.
At the beginning of the cal, after dealing with the accounting ambiguity, l I immediately jumped into Phill’s notes, which began with some suggestions for reshoots. I told him that those weren’t possible for four reasons:
1) There’s no budget to bring the actors, props, etc. back to the location;
2) The reason we got one of the locations we did was because they were planning a major remodel, which they began a week after we finished shooting. That location wasn’t going to look the same;
3) We have to release ALGORITHM this year, preferably at a specific festival, and the submission deadline that festival is the beginning of March. That means the festival needs a copy of ALGORITHM, in good shape, by then. While some of those reshoots may improve the look of ALGORITHM, it will be a largely nuanced change that will have a cascade effect and force us to get quite a bit of other shots. There simply isn’t enough time to do everything by March;
4) I’m happy with where ALGORITHM is now.
Then, I asked Phill for a general idea of what he thought of the movie. He thought it was good, but that it could be made great. I began to dig into exactly why he said that and we came to some very fascinating conclusions.
* * *
Will is a competent hacker. That means he’s very smart. He’s also got some emotional history that changed the way he looks at the world. To shield himself from pain, he’s largely cut off his emotions and thus his ability to emotionally connect with people. Any emotions he seems to feel are manufactured through what was originally an intense intellectual effort, but has since become habit.
Of course there’s more, but I’m not going to talk about everything here.
* * *
Edits aren’t simply for pacing, but they must come from a reason. In the case of ALGORITHM, that reason is character. My goal is to bring the audience into the mind of a computer hacker, into Will’s mind. Thus, his perspective becomes the framework by which I make editing choices.
There’s a scene where Will breaks into the base-station controller for a cell phone company to give himself free service. We shot each step of his walk to the tower, but I decided to do it in a series of jump cuts to reflect Will’s multi-tasking brain. He doesn’t pay attention to every step he takes. So, we aren’t going to see it in the movie.
There’s another section where Will is completely focused. Phill, and others, thought I should do the jump cuts again, but here it was a bad idea because, Will is focused, so the scene should play out at its normal rate.
* * *
Once I had established the method by which editing choices were made, it brings up a very interesting question:
In a later scene that could be edited with emotional impact I chose to mute the audio that belongs with that scene, and instead leave music and the voice over as the scene plays out. Thus, the audience sees the horror of the scene, while listening to Will’s seemingly unrelated argument as the substance of that argument plays out on screen.
That same idea of being in Will’s head is continued later, in a scene where one of Will’s friends rejects him. In the current cut, Will’s making a logical argument to connect two seemingly unrelated things, that, if they are related, have radical implications to his life. But, the V.O. at that point detracts from the emotional punch the scene needs to have. In other words, it stays inside Will’s head.
And this is a really interesting question. How far can I bring the audience into the mind of someone who doesn’t experience emotions the same way a normal human does, and how far do I extend the bridge backward, so that the scene has emotional continuity for an emotionally normal audience?
In the case of the scene in question, I’ve chosen to make a compromise. The logical argument Will must make needs to take place. But, if it takes place where I have it now, the audience doesn’t relate to the emotional gravity of the scene, which they need to do in order to sympathize with the character. If I move the V.O., then we leave Will’s cognitive mind for a moment and enter his emotions.
And, that’s the key. ALGORITHM is Will’s journey. It’s not just his intellectual revelations, but also his emotional journey.
I don’t know if I would have come to that clear of an understanding of the scene if it wasn’t for my conversation with Phill.
* * *
As the executive-producer/writer/director/editor of ALGORITHM, I make the final decisions. But, I need the input of others to help lift ALGORITHM beyond something I could possibly make on my own. I can say with certainty that ALGORITHM wouldn’t have happened the way it has… it wouldn’t be nearly as good without the help and input I’ve gotten from Phill. And, he’s not the only one.
Yes, I make the final decisions, but I do so with the good counsel of quite a few, very talented people. I’m grateful for all of them. Today, though, goes to Phillip Matarrese.